Monday, December 7, 2015

Exile From Extinction, by Ramez Naam

"Meeting Infinity" by Dominic Harman
(SF) As the war between humans and AIs comes to a violent close, you and your children flee for the stars, if you can escape pursuit. A fun read. (4,200 words; Time: 14m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆, Average

"Exile From Extinction," by , was published on

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Disclosure: Mez and I are friends and former coworkers who worked together at Microsoft on what's now called Bing.

Pro: The escape from Earth is dramatic and high-tension. The challenges of escaping the solar system keep it interesting up to the point where the mind decides to wake the children.

The author is aware that today's technology cannot ever produce an actual intelligence, so he posits some different, future technology. He also recognizes that AIs that acted like people wouldn't be commercially attractive, so he posits small teams that built them for their own sake. Bravo!

The description of the solar sail is dead-on, except as mentioned below. The math for the trip is only off by a little bit, so bravo for that too.

Con: I'm afraid I suspected at once that the refugees were AIs, not human beings. The single individual running the ship was a clue. The loved ones being lobotomized was another.

Beyond that one surprise, the story is linear, with a fairly obvious moral at the end. It's a fun read, but it's lightweight.

Minor stuff: I had a little trouble believing that the AI technology produced infants that were anything like human infants. If nothing else, I would expect the designers to be too impatient to wait a decade or more before their creations were interesting to talk to. There's also a mention of "base classes," which implies that the new AIs really are built with modern technology.

Expecting the Mercury station to operate unmolested for 38 years was definitely optimistic.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I just read this one in Lightspeed 112 and I have to say, I was pleasantly shocked by the switcheroo at the end.

  2. Link to Lightspeed reprint: